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Visions of Spanish life from one of the greatest graphic artists of all timeFrancisco Goya witnessed decades of political turmoil and social upheaval as court painter to four successive rulers of Spain. Among his greatest achievements were four series of etchings that chronicle the transformation of Spanish society and his own personal visions: Los Caprichos (The Caprices), Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War), La Tauromaquia (Bullfighting), and Los Disparates (The Follies). Near the end of his life, Goya also produced a set of four grand lithographs known as the Bulls of Bordeaux. This exhibition highlights prints from each series, exploring the imagery and techniques that make Goya one of the greatest graphic artists of all time. From the chaos of war to the spectacle of the bullfight, the prints in the exhibition show Goya’s remarkable ability to move between documentary realism and expressive invention. Unlike his commissioned paintings, his graphic works allowed him the freedom to explore provocative subjects such as prostitution, witchcraft, and political corruption. This exhibition also highlights how Goya pushed the limits of printmaking to heighten the expressive effect of his subjects.
Explore Goya’s Innovative Print SeriesDue to their eventual popularity and widespread impact, all four of Goya’s etching series were published numerous times after his death. The Museum is fortunate to own complete first-edition sets of each etching series as well as his final suite of lithographs, selections of which are displayed in the exhibition. Browse the full sets below.
Los Caprichos (The Caprices)In his first major print series, Los Caprichos, Goya critiques Spanish society by satirizing human folly and exposing institutional corruption. He produced this suite during a period of political instability in Spain and shortly after an illness that left him deaf. His choice of the word capricho, which can be translated as whim or invention, suggests the prints were derived from his imagination despite their often documentary appearance. Scenes of daily Spanish life are interspersed with supernatural visions. Recurring themes include the frivolity of courtship rituals, the dangers of ignorance, and the absurdity of superstition. Many of his moralizing messages reveal the impact of the Enlightenment, which espoused that reason should govern thought and behavior. Although the series was a commercial failure in his lifetime, the prints had an enormous influence on later artists. Browse all works in this series >>
Los Desastres de la Guerra
This strikingly modern series depicts the Napoleonic invasion and occupation of Spain (1808–14) and the repressive rule that followed the French defeat. The works include brutal scenes of war and famine as well as allegorical images that serve as commentary on the oppressive post-war government. While the searing images appear to have been captured from life, Goya was never on the battlefield, relying instead on reports and his imagination.
Browse all works in this series >>
(The Disasters of War)
The Agility and Audacity of Juanito Apiñani in [the Ring] at Madrid (Ligereza y atrevimiento de Juanito Apiñani en la de Madrid)